Review of NORTHERN LIGHTS by Nora Roberts (see her website)
G. P. Putnam's Sons, October 2004
After the death of his partner (for which he holds himself responsible), Nate Burke leaves the mean streets of Baltimore and heads as far away as possible--to Lunacy, Alaska where he has been offered the job of police chief. In Lunacy, he begins to find himself, to heal--and it doesn't hurt that the biggest crimes involve kids breaking windows and the occasional moose. The biggest crimes, that is, until a long dead climber is discovered in an ice-cave, with an axe in his chest.
Although he vanished many years before, Bush Pilot Meg Galloway has never really recovered from her father's disappearance. How could he just walk away, leaving her? When a group of climbers discovers her father's murdered body, Meg knows she has to find the killer--bring him to justice.
As these two damaged people work together to solve the mystery, they discover that the instant attraction that flared between them is more than just desire. Although Nate continually annoys Meg with his ordering her around and overprotectiveness, she recognizes that the loss of her father may have made her too independent, too unwilling to accept love because of the loss that love sometimes brings.
Author Nora Roberts (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Roberts) shows her writing talent by taking the overused cliche of the embittered and damaged, partner-losing cop--and actually makes us care about this person, his problems, and his happiness. Her strong writing brings the cold of an Alaska winter to life, and paints each of the damaged citizens of Lunacy vividly.
My advice is to read NORTHERN LIGHTS for the characters. The romance is a bit simplified and readers are likely to guess the killer's identity a couple of hundred pages before Nate and Meg finally bite, but Roberts makes us care about these people--and that is the essence of romance.
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